Thursday, March 29, 2012

Givenchy L'Interdit (Vintage Perfume)

L'Interdit is a product of a different perfume era. It's a classic aldehydic floral with a hint of green woven throughout its development and powdery dry-down. When people say that something smells "perfumy" they mean exactly this kind of scent, and I'm pretty sure that the many similar fragrances that could be found and everywhere in previous decades were created in L'Interdit's image. After all, this was the perfume Hubert de Givenchy commissioned for his muse, Audrey Hepburn. It doesn't get more iconic than Audrey (though rumor has it that she actually favored Le De, another Givenchy fragrance from the same year)

L'Interdit opens with a big blast of greenery and aldehydes. We've all smelled this a thousand times; In my own collection I have old bottles of Hermes Caleche and Nina Ricci Farouche, fragrances from the two following decades that were clearly heavily inspired by L'Interdit. All three represent the genre of very ladylike perfumes on its pearls, cardigans and thank you-notes on expensive monogrammed stationary.

L'Interdit is a mostly non-committal abstract floral, elevated at the top by those fizzy aldehyde notes and spiced up with clove and carnation, but only a little. It's a cool and collected little scent; L'Interdit lacks the sunshine and cream effect of Chanel No. 5, which perhaps is the reason why the latter is a best seller to this day, while L'Interdit, despite several reformulations and reissues has been mostly forgotten. It's pretty and pedigreed, but the end result is just not enticing enough. Personally, when I get the itch for this kind of fragrance I reach for my vintage Caleche. It has more character, especially in the dry-down, where L'Interdit simply fades into a delicate powdered vetiver.

Notes: galbanum, pepper, clove, strawberry, aldehydes, rose, jasmine, jonquil, violet, sandalwood, amber, musk, benzoin, iris, patchouli, vetiver, frankincense and tonka bean.

L'Interdit perfume ads via
Photo by Nina Leen, 1949.

Guerlain Terra Azzurra Collection by Emilio Pucci for Summer 2012

Bergdorf Goodman gave the press a sneak peek at the much-anticipated Guerlain Terra Azzurra Collection by Emilio Pucci for Summer 2012. It's a limited edition makeup collection packaged in Pucci's Winter Capri print. It screams The Riviera and makes ready to don a headscarf and large sunglasses and go on a long vacation. I have a feeling this will sell out quickly, so I'm going to secure the items I want ahead of time.

Here's what included in  Guerlain Terra Azzurra Collection by Emilio Pucci:
Terra Azzura Bronzing Powder & Blush ($75)- It's half Guerlain's Terracotta bronzer and half  bright blush. Comes in a Pucci printed pouch.
Meteroites Perles d'Azur ($58)- Guerlain's iconic powder pearls in a mix of blue, pink, beige, orange, ivory and gold. The packaging alone is a must-have, and even more so because I'm a  Meteroites Perles devotee.
Meteorites Pucci Collector's Brush ($38)- It's a blue and utterly adorable version of Guerlain's standard Meteorites brush. Comes in a Pucci pouch.
Ecrin 4 Couleurs Eye Shadow Palette in #13 Capri ($59)- Dark brown, ivory and two bright and warm shadesof pink and orange-red.  Not my thing.
Le 2 Mascara in #14 Blu Pucci ($36)- A bright blue mascara.
Khol Kajal in #02 Blu Acqua ($36)- Intense indigo blue.
Terracotta Gloss ($30.50)- in three shades named after Pucci silk scarves: #10 Porto Fino (coral pink), #11 Porto Ercole (spicy brown), and #12 Porto Azzuro (crazy indigo blue in the tube, shiny and transparent on the lips).
Terracotta Nail Polish ($22)- Very bold shades, though not necessarily unique: 01 Paradiso (coral pink), 02 Riviera (metallic indigo blue).

What do you think? Anything on your pre-order list?

I apologize for the cell pictures (and Bergdorf's frustrating lighting). One day I'll remember to actually take my good camera with me to events like this. You can see the press photos on Temptalia.

Ellis Faas E305 Eye Lights

Ellis Faas E305 Eye Lights is probably the most unique makeup item I own. Like other Ellis Faas Eye Lights  (previously reviewed E301 and E302), it's a cream eye shadow with a sensational metallic finish. But unlike the other items in the Lights range, E305 is a duo-chrome or a holographic color that changes significantly with the light.

Ellis Faas E305 Eye Lights is a reddish brown/silvery green. The color is very dramatic and unless you're a makeup artist it's 100% NSFW. This is a product for an evening look if there ever was one.You can watch this  tutorial by Smantha Chapman of Pixiwoo to get an idea about how to use it. Now, unlike Sam, I don't apply the cream directly from the applicator- I collect it with a brush. I also use much less and only on half the lid (I have some serious lid real estate). I do use a 217 to distribute the eye shadow and blend it, the way I do with many cream eye shadows, and occasionally also use a little on the lower lash line.

Now, is a good time to address one of the hot issues of recent weeks. If you were following some online discussions you may know that certain companies that were previously cruelty-free were exposed/admitted to change of policy. Ellis Faas (who is a vegetarian and has been so since childhood) has issued a press release to stress that their slogan "Only Tested On Supermodels" is as true as ever:
"There are three things we demand from the suppliers who develop products for our brand.
* the finished products, textures and shades cannot be tested on animals
* the ingredients themselves cannot be tested on animals
* the factories we use have to adhere to the European Union's so-called Fixed Cut Off Date scheme. This means that our products do not contain any ingredients that have been tested on animals since the EU banned those tests. This last thing is important, because it's mainly new ingredients that some manufacturers are still testing on animals.

Our suppliers have just re-confirmed that they are meeting our demands, and always will be. In fact, they stopped using animal-tested ingredients long before that became a law."
So now you know.

Bottom Line: A stunning must-have for adventurous makeup enthusiasts, but handle with care.

Ellis Faas E305 Eye Lights ($42) is available from Sephora (online only and in the NYC Meat Packing District location), SpaceNK and The product was sent to me free of charge for review.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guerlain- Iris Ganache ( L'Art et la Matiere)

Iris Ganache from Guerlain's L'Art et la Matiere line is perhaps the most controversial fragrance in that range. Guerlain has always been famous for vanilla notes and a pastry shop accord, but perfumer Thierry Wasser went all the way with Iris Ganache and added a very distinct white chocolate note. Even more so, the description of this perfume includes an "iris butter worked like a pastry ganache". It clearly says: "must love gourmands". And I do. Dearly.

For those who love Iris Ganache, it is intoxicatingly delicious. It starts with a bergamot-vanilla blend that is very recognizable as a Gueralin perfume. There's a twist, though, as cinnamon and chocolate enter the picture very quickly, adding thick and rich layers to this pastry. I wore Iris Ganache during my last visit to Paris and it was incredibly appropriate considering the time the husband and I spent at various patisseries and coffee shops. This fragrance goes extremely well with eclairs.

The iris and chocolate notes that are the core of Iris Ganache are intoxicating. The white chocolate is obvious, but there's also patchouli with its cocoa-like facet that darkens the fragrance and make it even more edible. But here's something interesting: in warm temperatures the chocolate melts quickly, almost sliding off my skin like a satin sheet, and I end up with a very naked and very real orris. Slightly bitter, a touch sweet, buttery (it did inhale some of that calorific ganache) and smooth. Also: beautiful, dark and sexy.

Of course, there's still a musky vanillic dry-down and it is a Guerlain perfume through and through, so that vanilla thing lasts for very long hours. But it's that moment when the iris emerges and stands alone for a while that brings everything together for me and proves what a beautiful and enjoyable perfume this is. It's all pleasure and I refuse to feel any guilt.

Read other reviews of Iris Ganache on Olfactoria's Travels, Eyeliner On A Cat, Perfume Posse, and I Smell Therefore I Am.

Notes: bergamot, cinnamon, white chocolate, iris butter, patchouli, musk, amber, cedar and vanilla.

Guerlain Iris Ganache ($250, 2.5oz EDP) is available from Guerlain boutiques and department stores that stock the L'Art et la Matiere line.

Art: Jean Beraud - La Pâtisserie Gloppe aux Champs-Élysées (1889)

YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking Mascara

YSL mascaras have long been in my rotation. Most of them proved to be great performers and I know more than one Chanel rep who reaches for them when doing a makeover instead of their own brand's (and I agree. I never repurchased a Chanel mascara). But we're here to talk about the YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking mascara that was released last year.

Yves Saint-Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking mascara is on the wet and goopy side. The only "shock" I had is how it made my lashes clump and stick together, something that rarely happens with high end mascaras these days. I'm guessing that someone whose lashes are a more sparse (I have a heavy-ish fringe) will not experience this, but do be aware that the texture is stickier than average. The mascara covers the lashes in a very glossy, very black (at least in the case of No. 1 Deep Black) coat that is good for extra definition, but does nothing for length or curl. I don't even think Effet Faux Cils Shocking is extremely volumizing. There are other mascaras on the market that do a better job in this regard.

The brush is of the short plastic teeth type, but I also tested it with a standard round brush and got similar results, though the thicker brush is better at controlling the product. The only shocking thing about this YSL mascara, now that I think of it, is that it misses the mark so spectacularly. There are so many great mascaras on the market and YSL is responsible to several of them; so why bother with this underachiever?

Apparently, the lovely Rae of the RAEviewer agrees with me, and her lashes are quite different than mine.

Bottom Line: meh.

YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking Mascara

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Madini Oils- Mokhalate Malaki

Mokhalate Malaki from Madini Oils is a surprising take on a surprising take on a familiar subject: a spicy rose oud. It starts with what my husband describes as a nose-singeing chemical rose and what I consider an ultra-saffroned rose. The fragrance mellows down into an oud-sandalwood blend that's sweet enough to make me happy. Mokhalate Malaki is much smoother than many of Montale's fragrances that tend to go sour on my skin.

The rose in Madini's Mokhalate Malaki is dry and takes nicely to the sweeter woody base. It makes me think of large rooms full of perfumed objects and fabrics, spices wafting down the halls and hang there in the air for days. Suddenly the curtains are drawn and the windows opened wide to let in the cool air. The oud pops in almost green and mentholated from the folds of rose petals. It's too oudy to be clean or fresh, so let's call it "refreshing". It really is. And I quite like it (the husband says it's too sharp). From that point on, Mokhalate Malaki doesn't develop much. It's linear but not has enough of a hook to keep me interested and enjoy it. As long as the husband is not around to complain, that is.

Madini Oils- Mokhalate Malaki ($15, 3ml that will last till the end of days. This stuff is strong) is available from

Art: Harem Life by John Frederick Lewis

Handmade iPad Cases

Dressing up one's iPad is perhaps less of a necessity if you got the Apple Smart Cover, but when carrying the device in a regular purse I'd rather both the iPad and the cover be protected from errant pens, rouge lip glosses and who knows what else. Also, it's fun and adds a little girly flair, at least in my case, as I've gone all pink: both the Smart Cover and the handmade sleeve I chose.

Here are some other lovely options I found on Etsy. All handmade and quite different than anything you might find at Staples:

The gray felt at the top reminded me of the Orla Kiely dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore recently. Made by TheSweetMemory from Arizona ($16).

The red leather, hand-cut and engraved case comes from RN&TN Studio in Thailand ($78).

Jeanine King from Upstate NY makes actual sleeve bags (and also laptop and camera bags), this was my favorite but you can also find some cute vintage prints in her collection ($54.99).

This one is hand-knit from a bulky yarn is quite amusing and will fit those who like a home-spun look. By CharBirdie from Ohio ($25).

A much sleeker and more urban look comes from Mari in Omaha, Nebraska. She offers tweedy options in herringbone, tartan and even pinstripe ($75).

This case from The2SistersShoppe in Florida actually replaces the regular Smart Cover and can stand on its own ($55).

The cute marching elephants come from SymbiosisbyJulia in Portland, Oregon ($27)

Estonian EightSeasons is a current favorite of mine. This leather case goes well with the designer's other pieces ($68).

This linen with leather accents case by HaHalley from Vietnam holds several more items such as cards and a smartphone ($48.99).

I bought my pink plaid case (above) from Day Of The Thread, the same California studio that made this one. The cases come beautifully packaged ($45) .

All links in this post are provided for your convenience. I'm not affiliated with any of the stores and get absolutely no compensation, monetary or other.

Sue Devitt Kenya Eye Intensifier Pencil

Sue Devitt Kenya Eye Intensifier Pencil is as basic as they get. A true dark chocolate brown with a creamy texture and finish. Kenya has no shimmer or multidimensional undertones: what you see is what you get, and you're free to use it any way you see fit.

Sue Devitt's Eye Intensifier pencils are on the chubby side, so when I want to use a color such as Kenya as a true liner I pick up the color with a thin brush. But you can also draw right with the pencil if you're doing a smoky eye and blend with the built-in sponge tip (I do that, but also finish the blending with a brush to make sure the pigment is spread evenly). I also use the pencils (including Kenya) as a base for powder eye shadows and have always admired the way these Sue Devitt pencils stay put without creasing or migrating despite their creaminess.

Bottom Line: a workhorse.

Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil ($22) comes in 13 colors and available from Barneys, Bloomingdale's, Ulta and I was sent Kenya free of charge by the company's PR.

Providence Perfume Co.- Tabac Citron

Tabac Citron from Providence Perfume Co. is one of the most friendly and approachable natural perfumes I know. From the first familiar opening of a very zesty citrus to the comforts of lavender, it feels lived-in and down to earth, simple but not simplistic. Oh, and also very pretty. After all, it was inspired by Provencal landscapes and tries to recreate that perfect sunny morning feeling, light and shade, breeze and warmth over a beautiful country scene.

Natural Perfumer Charna ethier of Providence Perfume Co. created Tabac Citron as an easy going not-quite-cologne-type of fragrance. The lemon is more jest than juice, so it has more bite, and the very natural, almost earthy facets of Tabac Citron prevents it from being too clean and sterile. It's a real perfume, with an almost leather like touch in the dry-drown. Spraying myself (generously) with Tabac Citron is like pulling my old and worn leather jacket over the soft dresses and frilly scarves I usually wear. It's safe and comfortable but not boring.

There's a beautiful balance in Tabac Citron between crisp-green and crisp-dry. The overall feel of this Providence fragrance is on the dry side and it's completely unisex. I wish it lasted far longer than the three hours it gives me. I probably need to get a bigger bottle so I can drench myself in it to make it stay, and probably also spray some on my scarves. I can imagine my entire summer closet smelling like this. It would be a very joyous thing.

Notes: lemon zest, Provencal lavender, and blonde tobacco.

Tabac Citron by Providence Perfume Co. ($26, 6ml travel spray EDP or $115 for the 30ml) is available from  BeautyHabit and directly from the perfumer at sample was sent by the perfumer.

Art via

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spotlight On A B/Vlogger- GossMakeupArtist

The world of makeup has changed a lot over the last 25 years, and not just because the pigments, finishes, and textures have improved considerably. The biggest difference is the amount and quality of resources and educational material that's available to everyone. Makeup tutorials on YouTube are free and accessible, and there are some excellent professional makeup artists out there, all offering us the free lessons that would have spared me endless angst and frustration in my youth (not to mention all those "you're not leaving the house like that" moments).

One of my top favorite YouTube vloggers is Wayne Goss, the UK-based makeup artist behind the channels Gossmakeupartist and Gossmakeupartistchat. Having a professional makeup artist show you his tried-and-true techniques and teach you how to get things right step-by-step is a wonderful gift. Goss is a master of contouring, concealing and getting the best out of one's skin and face shape. I've spent quite a bit of time in front of my makeup mirrors practicing his methods, and I can tell you that his concealer video below is priceless:

Wayne has an easygoing friendly approach. His reviews are as frank and honest as can be, something I deeply appreciate. His point of view and mine are different: I write as a consumer of luxury products who's searching for the best money can buy. Goss is a makeup artist who needs the best value and large quantities, and often requires heavy duty products. Thus, we don't always agree about specific items, but he brings up excellent food for thought and his reasons for liking or disliking an item are quite important.

Goss often demonstrates his methods either on himself (he rocks guyliner like no one else) or on his friend Mandy. Their interaction is quite amusing and I end up very jealous of Mandy. Since I don't have a friendly makeup artist next door, watching Wayne Goss on YouTube is as close I'll get for now.

Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights- Dusk

Looking at photos from all over the net, bronzers are hot this season (when are they not?). Looking at my naked face, this is a very good thing. There are endless options in various colors and textures, so here's another excellent one from Smashbox: Fusion Soft Lights in Dusk.

Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights is a light bronzer with illuminating qualities. It gives the appropriate parts of the face a golden sun-kissed look that isn't too brown or orange, and has a very delicate shimmer built to elevate the look and gently highlight the cheekbones. The colored stripes allow for some customization and help Fusion Soft Lights multitask and be used on the eyes and brow bone.

Fusion Soft Lights comes in two shades. This is Dusk, which is the more golden-bronze of the two. The other one, Intemix, is on the pinkish side, so not really my thing. I love Dusk for the subtle color and the very fine texture. It looks like a million dollar and requires little to no effort.

Bottom Line: Adore.

Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights ($30) is available from Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom and Mine was a gift-with-purchase.

Neela Vermeire Creations- Trayee

The complexity of Trayee from Neela Vermeire Creations caught me unprepared. You don't come across many modern perfumes that smell like this, that have so many parts and facets while creating a rich mosaic-like  picture. When you come across something that smells like this you have to stop, smell and try to take it all in, little by little.

Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour composed Trayee for Neela Vermeire as a homage to the spiritual Vedic age and its quest for knowledge and wisdom. Many of us are probably somewhat familiar with one expression of that quest: yoga and the ancient holistic philosophy behind it. We might have come across some of the rituals and ceremonies or seen images of them, visited temples and maybe even witnessed a ceremony. That's the world of Trayee and the inspiration for it. Thus, the first impression the fragrance creates is of smoke, incense and spice, a heavy veil  that greets you as you enter the temple. As your eyes (or nose) adjust, you notice the details, the colors and the intricate artwork on the walls and the objects around you.

The colors are intense, as are the aromas in the air. There are garlands of jasmine served as offering to the gods and goddesses. Beautifully carved bowls of spices in rich hues, embroidered fabrics, and in the background: the smoky sweet incense.

Wearing Trayee fills me with awe. I suspect that this is exactly what the fragrance was created to do. The light and the shadows within were meant to give us perspective, to remind us that there's a lot to experience and learn, far beyond what the eye can see. There's a story here, told in rhyme, probably in a language we don't fully understand, but wearing Trayee and letting it take us on a journey feels like the knowledge is almost within our grasp. It's there, waiting, and this thought, just like the incredible smooth and silky dry-down, is sweet and comforting.

Notes: Blue ginger, elemi, cinnamon, ganja accord, blackcurrant absolute, basil, jasmine sambac, Egyptian jasmine, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, oud palao from Laos, oak moss.

Neela Vermeire Creations- Trayee ($250, 55 ml) is available from Luckyscent as well as from the perfumer's website, The site also offers a discovery set, 10 ml of all three Neela Vermeire perfumes (90 euro), as well as samples.

Art: Hindu Goddess of wisdom and knowledge, Saraswati, from

Friday, March 23, 2012

Karl Lagerfeld, His Bathroom and Kitten In Harper's Bazaar

Harper's Bazaar brings us a day in the life of Karl Lagerfeld, complete with some very interesting photos of his bathroom and his cat, Choupette. Lagerfeld's bathroom is interesting for two main reasons: it's far more cluttered than I expected, and we get a glimpse of the fragrances he uses. Are we surprised to see Chanel is barely represented there?

I can spot two Serge Lutens perfumes in the export bottles, Shalimar in the limited edition black bottle from a couple of years ago, as well as a Shalimar Parfum Initial, something that may be Guerlain Cologne du 68, Balenciaga Paris, a Chanel bottle, a CDG and two Tom Ford private Blend fragrances.

Can you spot and identify anything else? Don't you just want to go and sniff Karl Lagerfeld's neck (or his kitten's?)?

Photo Credit: Karl Lagerfeld for Harper's Bazaar.

Balenciaga- Michelle (Vintage Perfume)

Unlike the classic Balenciaga perfumes (Le Dix, Quadrille, etc.), Michelle was not a product of the designer's glamorous decades. Instead it was launched in 1979, and was, in many ways, a harbinger of the 80s: a loud tuberose perfume with a nice helping of spice and a touch of the tropics.

Michelle starts big. It's obviously a white flower fragrance from the first whiff. The EDT (I have a bottle of the extrait de parfum and a mini of the EDT concentration) jumps at you a bit more aggressively, probably because it has more aldehydes (or because my parfum lost most of them over the years), but as other reviewers noted, this is still a Balenciaga perfume, not Giorgio. While I can't really see Dovima and Bettina rocking the gardenia and coconut notes of Michelle while wearing a sculpted Balenciaga coat, it's not vulgar in any way. On the contrary: even the beachy vibe smells luxe, and not necessarily in a Dallas/Dynasty way. The greenery balances it out surprisingly well, and I suspect that some decent raw materials were put into this fragrance.

The coconut-gardenia is soon evicted by even creamier notes. Maybe even too creamy: the ylang-ylang is thick and very tactile. It reminds me of hand creams of that era and could have been a bit bothersome if the fragrance was not all about tuberose and carnation by the time I start questioning my choice of Michelle as my scent of the day. The lush transition is even better on hot and humid days when you can fully smell every crevice of the flower. It's as rich and heady as you'd expect, and there are other surprises waiting: Michelle is spicier than Fracas, Chloe (original) and their ilk. The carnation has an almost clove-like facet as it often does, and as Elena from Perfume Shrine has commented, while it's not listed, there is more than a hint of cinnamon.

The spice and opulent tuberose lead Michelle into a dry-down that's full on oriental. It's a very satisfying journey of a pretty and wearable perfume that keeps the wearer on her toes (or his. Tuberose can be an equal opportunity stunner). That's the main thing about this vintage (and sadly discontinued) Balenciaga fragrance: it's interesting and adventurous.

Notes: aldehydes, gardenia, green notes, coconut, peach, carnation, tuberose, iris, orchid, jasmine, yalng ylang, rose, sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver.

Michelle 1980 ad and a Balenciaga 1979 fashion ad from

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Güd from Burt's Bees- Orange Petalooza Natural Body Wash

Güd from Burt's Bees is a new bath and body line that focuses on the scent of the products while maintaining the (mostly) natural theme of Burt's Bees. The Orange Petalooza Natural Body Wash smells mostly like orange soda, which goes well with the cheerful flower-power theme of the packaging (but less so with personal taste). I think they took it a little too much into the "yummy" side of things and forgot to put in the promised hyacinth.

Güd's body wash lathers nicely and has not made my skin itch. I do find too drying, though, so I must moisturize good and well as soon as I step out from the shower. The product is supposed to be 97% natural and made without parabens, phthalates or petrochemicals. Here's the ingredient list, copied from Güd by Burt's Bees website:
water, sodium coco-sulfate, fragrance, cocamidopropyl betaine, disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate, sodium chloride, coco-glucoside, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, hyssopus officinalis extract*, juglans nigra (black walnut) leaf extract*, melissa officinalis leaf extract*, rosa canina fruit extract*, rubus idaeus (raspberry) leaf extract*, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, citric acid, alcohol denat., potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol
Bottom line: It's okay, but nothing special.

Güd from Burt's Bees Orange Petalooza Natural Body Wash ($7) is available at most drugstores. I received it and a couple of others as a Klout Influencer perk.

Photo by Freddie1201 on flickr.

Claudio Riaz Pop Culture Eye Shade 2

Makeup artist* Claudio Riaz started his product line a couple of years ago by launching a range of makeup brushes that reflect his approach to makeup application that emphasizes contouring. I played with some of the brushes, but have yet to purchase any (I own several top-of-the-line eyebrow brushes, but I assure you that paying $95 for one is not something I'm willing to do). However, his color cosmetics are more intriguing and I'm slowly getting to know them.

Claudio Riaz Pop Culture Eye Shade is a cake eyeliner/kohl for use on the inner rim and for tightlining. It comes in two colors: black (1) and this cobalt blue (2). Application of Pop Culture Eye Shade calls for first dipping the brush into the pan, then moistening it before using it on the rim. I've found that the best way to mix  it together is on the back of my hand. This creates a smooth paste that's easy to to apply. The result is not only pretty, but also incredibly long lasting.

I've also used a touch of this blue Pop Culture Eye Shade blended into my eye shadow (dry). It gives an extra depth and intensity that survives a full day out and about.

Bottom Line: more shades, please.

Claudio Riaz Pop Culture Eye Shade ($28) is exclusive to Barneys, online and in store.

*I'm so over the term "celebrity makeup artist"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia

As far as fresh aquatic perfumes go, Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia is fairly tolerable.  I tend to dislike this genre immensely, but Armani's 2010 addition to their feminine line is free of the melon, marine, and ozonic notes that usually turn my stomach.  Acqua di Gioia (composed by perfumer Anne Flipo) seeks to be a perceived as a clean and cool fum fragrance, the olfactory equivalent of a refreshing drink

Armani Acqua di Gioia boasts a mojito-inspired accord that's sweet and minty. The mint note is very toned down and lacks life and color. It's too pale and too sheer to keep my attention. If this is a mojito or any kind of drink, really, we're looking at a watered-down version you get at a cheap open bar. It will do, but it's too unmemorable and week to give a good buzz. The watery flowers are also quite boring. We've smelled aquatic jasmines too often, and truth be told, that's not a real jasmine. Not even close.

The core and the base of Armani Acqua di Gioia, despite the promises of labdanum and cedar, is sugar water with a chemical strength. It doesn't smell like much at first, but the tenacity is mind-blowing. One shower is not enough to get rid of the aftertaste the fragrance leaves behind. Neither does one washing cycle. Don't get me wrong:  it's far from unpleasant (and the sugar water thing might be my favorite part of Gioia), and since this Armani is so clean and "approachable" (their word), there's nothing aggressive about it, but it's just there. All the time. Like a low static hum.

As I said, the low-key sweetness that holds Acqua di Gioia's base smells nice enough on my skin. I can wear it, if I have to. I can also see why so many people like this fragrance. It just doesn't do anything for me.

Notes: mint, brown sugar, lemon, aquatic jasmine, peony, pink pepper, cedarwood, labdanum.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia ($39.50, 1oz) is available at most department stores, Sephora and the company's website. Until the end of the month there's also a limited edition 10ml rollerball priced at $15 (available from 100% of its retail sales price will be donated to support the UNICEF Tap Project that aims to provide clean water for children worldwide.

This review is based on samples and a mini bottle that I received at various beauty and media events. I also got a rollerball from the company's PR, which I tested for comparison (it's the same as samples from 2010).